“The part of my job I love the most is being on the road connecting with the agents!” says Karen McColl, a business development manager for both Princess Cruises & Cunard Line.
McColl started working in tourism immediately after graduating from Fleming College, first doing a placement at the Peterborough Visitors Bureau and then moving on to working in resorts and hotels.
Her journey eventually led her to Western Canada, where she worked at the Ocean Pointe Resort in the Inner Harbour of Victoria, B.C.
“That is when I found out that I could combine my love for travel and get paid for it,” McColl tells PAX. “I joined Princess as a Purser in 1998 and sailed the world for 16 years.”
Today, the Bradford, ON-based travel professional specializes in supporting and partnering with travel agents and agencies in selling Princess and Cunard throughout her territory of Ontario West.
“I sell cruises for a living!” McColl says. “How great is that? I am lucky enough to represent two fantastic cruise brands!”
Here, PAX checks in with McColl to chat about being a shopaholic, Kermit the Frog and a zip lining experience that didn’t end so well.
PAX: What are three essential items you always travel with?
Karen McColl (KM): Packing cubes, my iPad and my rotating curling brush.
PAX: What are some of your favourite vacation spots?
KM: As I worked on board, I was lucky enough to visit many exciting destinations! My favourite cities to visit were Seattle and Honolulu because I love to shop. I loved sailing the South Pacific as this, to me, is the ultimate tropical destination. My favourite Caribbean destinations are St. Maarten and Aruba because of the great shopping. Oh, and the beautiful beaches too.
PAX: What’s your favourite airport?
KM: LHR [Heathrow Airport] for shopping. YVR [Vancouver International Airport], too, as it is the most relaxed airport I’ve ever waited in.
PAX: What was the first vacation you ever took?
KM: My very first vacation alone was Fort Lauderdale when I was 17. There were six of us experiencing the iconic U.S. Spring Break. I can’t believe I was allowed to go. I’ve been travelling in one form or another ever since.
PAX: What’s the biggest splurge you’ve ever made on a trip?
KM: So being a self-professed shopaholic, I bought a felt, hand-painted decorative pillow in Helsinki for 250 Euro. I loved it so much when I bought it that I did not even realize that this was a completely ridiculous amount of money.
PAX: What’s the most memorable meal you’ve ever eaten while travelling?
KM: In a restaurant in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, I ate from a banana leaf with my hands. The restaurant had a sink out in the open where guests were washing their hands before indulging.
PAX: What’s your biggest travel pet peeve?
KM: Changing planes and getting assigned the middle seat. This happened to me recently.
PAX: What are your hidden talents?
KM: I used to do a great Kermit the Frog impression.
PAX: What's your funniest travel anecdote?
KM: I used to think I was pretty adventurous! I would never bungee jump but it was a popular thing to do while travelling. I did, however, decide that zip lining in Puerto Vallarta was an adventure I could partake in. That day I discovered I was afraid of heights. I literally clung to a tree, frozen, until the guides could arrange for me to rappel down to ground level. I remember thinking of the poor guy on the receiving end, as I was bum-first coming down the rope. Luckily, I recovered quickly and saw the humourous side of the situation.
PAX: What should travel agents know right now about Princess Cruises/Cunard Line?
KM: Combinability! Our promotions combine with groups, cruise sales, FCC and referral credits. Leverage groups to add to the booking! Block group space and use the GAP points to add further value to your clients booking.
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